When winter comes, there are a lot of things that need to be prepped. Clean out your gutters, store your lawnmower, switch out the storm windows, load up on salt and de-icer. But is your roof ready for winter?
Roofing codes require that your roof be strong enough to withstand typical snow for your area. But if you live in Western New York, you know that “typical snow” varies greatly, and some winters you may have to ask your roof to go above and beyond the call of duty. How can you make sure your roof will stay strong through the worst winter storms?
1. Maintenance is crucial. Regular roof maintenance ensures little problems don’t become leaky, gaping problems when the weather betrays you. A yearly or semi-annual maintenance check could be the thing that saves you from having to replace your roof and repair interior damage later on.
2. Know when it’s time to start removing snow manually. Snow melts, so overload is a temporary problem. But wet snow is much heavier (about 6x) than dry, fluffy snow, and the longer it sits, the more wear and tear your roof experiences. While it’s hard to judge with certainty what the “breaking point” is for snow removal, one option is to check your interior doors – if they start to stick, it could mean the weight on your roof is starting to cause sagging. Rafters that are bending, cracking, creaking or popping from the weight are also an indication that removal may be necessary.
3. There are other reasons to remove snow. Your roof may be strong enough to withstand the weight, but heavy snowfall can lead to ice dams. And ice dams can cause major issues, interiorly and exteriorly. Making sure your gutters are clear before heavy snowfall helps prevent ice dams, but whenever there is a huge influx of melting snow, there’s a
chance for damage.
4. Call in an expert. Removing excess snow on your own is dangerous, particularly if your building is taller than a single story. It’s worth a few hundred dollars to know that it’s
being removed correctly and not inflicting damage on your roof, and you can rest easy knowing that a professional, licensed, insured company will have the right equipment
and safety procedures to get it done quickly and safely.
5. If you decide to do it yourself, make sure you have the right equipment. A long-handled snow rake lets you remove snow from the safety of the ground, and is unlikely to
damage the roof.
6. DO NOT use a metal shovel on your roof, particularly with shingles. Metal shovels damage shingles, and lead to bigger problems down the line. Do not try to remove all the ice and snow, just the excess. Again, your roof is designed to withstand some snow.